Why do Russians smile so little (and Americans so much)?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 27, 2011 11:34 PM GMT
    Apparently it's because Russians are more honest in their facial expressions - more in the link.

    http://english.pravda.ru//society/sex/22-03-2011/117282-russian_smile-0/

    The social role of politeness in Russia is extremely low. Unwelcoming service has become one of the manifestations of this public flaw in the country. Muscovites are considered those who smile least among the residents of other Russian cities. A poll conducted by ROMIR Monitoring showed that 88 percent of Russians slam Muscovites for their rudeness. Rudeness and indifference of personnel hurts consumers morally and causes financial damage to companies.

    There is a unique proverb in the Russian language, which probably does not exist in other languages. "Laughing for no reason makes you a fool." This is what many Russian people say and they really mean it when they say so. Foreigners seem to be unable to understand the logic of this saying. A German teacher was told that if a person laughs for no reason then it means that he or she has mental issues. The teacher could not get the point and would only ask why in return.

    A sales woman from Voronezh was hospitalized to a mental institution because the store director would always smile at her. The woman thought that her financial accounts could probably be messy - this is the explanation that the woman found to her boss's smiles. The woman could not work under such conditions and broke down. This case is described in the research titled "The smile in the Russian communicative behavior." The research was made by Joseph Sternin, a professor of the Voronezh State Technical University.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    my co-workers Russian are nice and love to joke.....
  • SFGeoNinja

    Posts: 510

    Mar 28, 2011 12:47 AM GMT
    I work with a large Russian-speaking population, and this is partly true. This is not to say that Russians are dour, gloomy, or unengaged necessarily, just that they are less quick to smile and let their guard down than most other cultures. Their sense of humor tends to be dry wit and cutting or mordant remarks, rather than more light-hearted stuff.

    Part of it could be, at least for the Muscovites, that they live in one of the world's most expensive cities?

    http://www.citymayors.com/features/cost_survey.html
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 12:50 AM GMT
    tumblr_lioaniyNRk1qzzefvo1_500.jpg
  • SFGeoNinja

    Posts: 510

    Mar 28, 2011 12:57 AM GMT
    This one's my favorite:

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 1:27 AM GMT
    Same with Japanese.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 1:30 AM GMT
    davidp7 saidThis one's my favorite:

    That video is great. Thanks.

    I think Russians tend to be more serious, and more reticent to show emotions, especially to strangers. In certain venues it is different. For example, the audience in TV comedy shows laughs quite a bit at things we might consider kind of stupid, and also slapstick.

    Probably even more true in the larger cities. But not just Russia and Moscow. I knew a lady who came from a small town outside Seattle and moved to New York. At first, out of habit, she smiled at people on the subway. She said they looked at her as if she had a mental problem.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 1:48 AM GMT
    According to the Smiling Report that sends secret shoppers across Europe, North America, and Asia to observe smiling patterns at retailers: "The trend continues downwards. The average 2009 was 71% which is the lowest since the survey started in 2004 and the average was 87%".

    This article found that some countries had worse smiling violations than Russia's: "The smile rankings were topped by Sweden, where workers smiled in 87% of interactions, Latvia (86 %) and Estonia (84 %). The United States came fifth with 80% of the staff smiling. Russia was trailed only by Croatia on 59% and Pakistan, with a miserable 34% of staff smiling at customers."

    This is all probably a reflection of a nation's overall sense of happiness.
    happiness-map.jpg


  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 2:48 AM GMT
    riddler78 saidApparently it's because Russians are more honest in their facial expressions.

    dsmith123 saidAccording to the ... Smiling Report ... this is all probably a reflection of a nation's overall sense of happiness.
    .
    I'm not sure if smiling truly reflects happiness. How many people maintain forced smiles? I don't smile much because I don't like being disingenuous and sometimes the pretense of smiling is too much effort, but it doesn't mean I'm not happy. Readers of this topic might be interested in this somewhat relevant thread asking if anyone else hates smiling: http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/1447653/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 2:50 AM GMT
    What americans are you talking about, most the ppl I see walking around are not smiling.
  • needleninja

    Posts: 713

    Mar 28, 2011 2:52 AM GMT
    if you compare pictures to japan, youll pretty much see the same thing. they have a more serious look in their pictures, its mostly a cultural thing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 2:54 AM GMT
    I moved here from Russia when I was 6... I had a pretty good brush with the culture as a kid and my parents are still pretty "Russian." It is a much more stoic culture for sure... but there are a few like me who break that stereotype and love to have fun, be social, smile, etc etc.
  • matt13226

    Posts: 829

    Mar 28, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    they have so much more going on then we do here in the USA they have wars and food shortages now that they closed the bread market there.
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Mar 28, 2011 3:04 AM GMT
    ...and I thought Germans were the people who are always stoic and rigid...
  • samasaurusrex

    Posts: 84

    Mar 28, 2011 3:04 AM GMT
    It's cause it's so cold their faces will shatter if they smile.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 3:11 AM GMT
    Because the price of vodka has gone through the roof!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 3:16 AM GMT
    I love russian men and women. One of my best friends and best roomates is russian. He was cool shit. Always laughing though he always sounded angry when he talked to his family in russian :S
  • 10sboySF

    Posts: 32

    Mar 28, 2011 3:34 AM GMT
    Simon78928 saidWhat americans are you talking about, most the ppl I see walking around are not smiling.


    I totally agree with you. Americans are not smiley people. Visit any of the major cities and you will see. Now, Canadians on the other hand are definitely happier than Americans.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 4:13 AM GMT
    sdgman saidBecause the price of vodka has gone through the roof!


    Or they are in a constant vodka hangover.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 4:41 AM GMT
    Russians may not be as dour as some of us believe:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/brooding-russians-are-happier-than-they-look/article1641593/

    Brooding Russians are happier than they look

    With those words, Russian writer Anton Chekhov seemed to perfectly encapsulate the brooding spirit of his people, an attitude that U.S. ethnographers actually researched in “national character difference” studies in the 1950s. Then they concluded that Russian immigrants tended to dwell on negative memories more than Westerners.

    A new report from the University of Michigan, however, dispels some of those creaky stereotypes, as researchers have discovered that even though Russians tend to brood, they’re less likely than Americans to feel as depressed afterward.

    “The conclusion that you often jump to is that Russians are unhappy,” says Igor Grossmann, a doctoral psychology candidate who co-authored the report, to be published in the August issue of Psychological Science.

    The report looks at the findings of two studies conducted in the U.S. and Russia in 2007 and 2008 and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. In the first study, the researchers looked at self-reflection and depression among 85 American students and 83 Russian students, age 21 on average.

    They used a personality-trait scale developed by Yale University’s Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a leading expert on rumination. Sample statements included, “I often spend time by myself thinking about past negative experiences,” and, “I often like to walk in the park and think about past events,” Mr. Grossmann said.

    The researchers observed that although Russians were more likely to brood, they had fewer depressive symptoms than the Americans.

    In the second study, 86 American and 76 Russian students were asked to recall a recent unpleasant experience, be it a breakup, infidelity or a fight with a friend. The participants were asked if they’d achieved closure or still blamed the other party. They were also asked to describe whether they were replaying the event through their own eyes or if they were watching it unfold as “a fly on the wall.”

    Compared to the Americans, the Russian students were more likely to spontaneously distance themselves from the situation as they analyzed their emotions.

    “Distancing is one mechanism that helps them see the positive, despite the fact that they’re contemplating negative experiences,” Mr. Grossmann said, adding that this seemingly paradoxical ability may be tied to linguistics. “Past research also shows that the meanings of positive words often have negative connotations for Russians, and the meanings of negative words often have positive connotations for Russians. There is some kind of dialectical thinking going on there, where they see the other side.”

    The Russians were also less distressed after remembering the moment – and less likely to blame the other person. “Blaming the other person often leads to anger and pronounced negative emotions, past research in emotion-regulation shows,” Mr. Grossmann said.

    The native of Ukraine – and self-confessed brooder – said the findings suggest culture can shape how individuals respond to negative interpersonal experiences.

    The report was co-authored by Ethan Kross, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 10:55 PM GMT
    Perhaps it's more of a social upbringing? The education in USA in both HS and college, especially in college, encourages the young people to find, and be themselves. This probably promotes the wellbeing feeling. I don't mean other countries don't but north american countries seem to do it more.

    See but even within USA there are disparities. Just compare California to NYC, totally different mentality. I was in Hawaii two weeks ago and I probably saw more happy faces in a day there, than a year in NYC.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 28, 2011 11:19 PM GMT
    There s a Russian chick I know n she's always smilin laughin an loud, so I say to El Katarina Crazybitchwhoneedaeatasandavich why are you so happy, she said in America you drive kar, in Russia kar drive u! HA!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 29, 2011 3:17 AM GMT
    riddler78 saidWhy do Russians smile so little (and Americans so much)?
    You've obviously never watched Russian porn.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 29, 2011 6:47 PM GMT
    In traditional Russian culture, smiling is equated with being stupid. Neutral looks (or even bitch faces) don't necessarily mean displeasure.

    I had a fun time learning that when I visited there and kept smiling...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 29, 2011 6:54 PM GMT
    Australians smile a hell of a lot and are damn happy. *grumble*